ASU researchers receive federal funding for new and existing police training programs

November 21, 2019

Arizona State University’s Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety received a new grant to evaluate a program that will train police in the emergency treatment of opioid overdoses, and secured ongoing funding for an existing program that educates officers in the use of body-worn cameras.

The new, four-year grant — awarded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under the federal First Responders-Comprehensive Recovery Act — equips Tempe police officers with Narcan for emergency treatment of opioid overdoses and supports analysis to be carried out by the center. Image by Matt Popovich on Unsplash Download Full Image

Narcan is the first and only nasal form of naloxone that has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for such suspected overdoses.

A total of $400,000 from the $2 million grant will go to the center, based at ASU’s Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions. ASU’s portion of the funding will enable the center to complete process and outcome evaluations of training for the Tempe officers and social service outreach provided by EMPACT, a Tempe-based suicide prevention center, said Michael White, center co-director.

“Tempe, like other cities, has struggled quite a bit with opioid overdoses,” said White, a professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice in the Watts College. “The uniqueness of what we’re doing is what happens after the administration of Narcan.”

Once the patient’s life has been saved through a first responder administering Narcan, the focus shifts to treatment and counseling, White said. The grant will enable the patient to undergo up to 90 days of treatment that includes counseling provided by EMPACT.

ASU researchers will evaluate the effectiveness of the program, White said, answering questions about the services each patient receives, whether treatment resulted in fewer overdoses and whether patients are enjoying an improved quality of life once off opioids.

“The idea is to get the person to the point where they won’t OD again,” White said.

Body-worn camera grant renewed

Additionally, the center's federal contract to work with CNA, a Virginia-based nonprofit research corporation, has been renewed for three more years. 

ASU joined with CNA Corporation and Justice and Security Strategies in 2015 to facilitate the training and technical assistance for law enforcement agencies that receive funding from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance to purchase body-worn cameras. The original grant of $800,000 to ASU was supplemented to a total of $1.6 million over the four years of the contract, he said.

The ASU team, led by White and Charles Katz, provides a wide range of support to participating agencies, including peer-to-peer training, webinars, speaker series, policy and training templates and other services, as needed. White and Katz also have directed a number of research efforts for the program, resulting in several reports, publications and presentations.

This year, the grant was renewed for $750,000 over three years. It keeps ASU providing law-enforcement agencies with expert knowledge on the use of such cameras, said White, who added it is likely the latest grant amount will likewise be supplemented.

U.S. police agencies that receive federal funding for the cameras are approved for two years. So far, approximately 400 police agencies have participated in the program, with about 90 more added each year, White said.

ASU is the only university working with police agencies receiving federal funding for the cameras, he said, providing the necessary training, assistance with forming administrative policy and help choosing a camera vendor.

Cameras require a large administrative investment not only in the devices themselves but in additional support staff to examine, store and catalog video footage, White said. The cameras have been effective for many law-enforcement agencies in improving their relationships with communities and increasing their accountability with the public, he said.

ASU tourism students learn how smaller communities deal with large influx of visitors

November 18, 2019

Hiking through hidden caverns bathed with rays of sunlight from above and exploring a traditional Navajo hogan were among the many ways more than 20 Arizona State University tourism students learned of the impacts of tourism in local communities during a recent visit to the windswept rocks and plateaus near Page, Arizona.

The Nov. 1–3 trip offered the students the chance to learn firsthand how social media has driven huge increases in the numbers of visitors at iconic places such as Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend, said Claire McWilliams, tourism development and management instructor and adviser to the ASU Tourism Student Association (TSA). Jing "Viona" Fang visits Antelope Canyon near the Arizona-Utah border with about 20 other ASU students in early November. Jing "Viona" Fang walks through Antelope Canyon near the Arizona-Utah border with about 20 other ASU tourism students in early November to learn about how smaller communities deal with large numbers of visitors. Photo courtesy Claire McWilliams, School of Community Resources and Development Download Full Image

Tourism development and management major and TSA member Raquel Bigman, a Page resident, assisted the club in creating a learning-intensive itinerary and connecting with key community members.

Upon arriving in Page, on the Utah-Arizona border, the students were taken by guides to Upper Antelope Canyon. Guides described the environmental, cultural and practical value of these locations, as well as the challenges of adapting to visitor totals that have grown exponentially in recent years, McWilliams said.

Navajo tribal members and business owners Tina Mountain, Jazzlyn Begay and Richardson Etsitty shared perspectives about how their community is impacted by tourism and equitable access barriers to resources like water, electricity, funding and permitting.

“I think that this trip was important for us (students) to learn about tourism from a completely different perspective,” said TSA member Jade Gray. “The Navajo, the Native people of this land, are trying to develop their own communities while at the same time welcoming more and more outsiders into their land. It was very humbling.”

TSA member Genna Oppasser agreed.

“What I found of value on this trip was that when a community is involved in tourism there can be heartbreak and pain and joy and pride, all at once. It made me acknowledge the access to resources that I have taken for granted,” she said. “I also see that through my career and how I travel I can help people in places just like this to enjoy more of the benefits of tourism and less of the problematic aspects. I learned you can never truly know until you learn the story of someone who is living it every day."

Students also toured the Antelope Hogan Bed & Breakfast, built and owned by Etsitty, and learned about his approach to offering traditional hogan (pronounced, hoh-GAWN, or hoh-guhn) lodging that looks out onto a stunning vista. Etsitty described his mission to provide his guests with access to authentic storytelling, foods and harmony with the land. 

“What I learned from our trip to Page was the word ‘connection.’ I really liked what Jazzlyn, on our panel, said: ‘Culture ... home ... we are tethered to them. When you are far away, their tendrils will pull you back’,” said TSA secretary Shiyu Qiao. “I am from China, and I feel the same way when I am in the United States sometimes. Connection exists between Navajo and nature. Navajo children have nature as their playground. They follow the sunlight as they enter the hogan. There is connection between Navajos and their ancestors all around them. I learned that sustainable tourism development is really important to preserve this."

Big-picture community development is important for students in building their future careers, said Mark Roseland, director of the School of Community Resources and Development at ASU’s Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions. Roseland reminded the students about how those residents impacted by tourism should properly fit it into the overall plan for raising their quality of life.

Brooks Reece, TSA president, said traveling to Page was the highlight of many educational opportunities gained from TSA membership.

“Learning about the Navajo presented us with the reality that their resources and culture are the central draw to the area, and a challenge: How can tourism models be developed that more equitably and positively impact quality of life for all involved?" Reece said.

“From the Page, Arizona, trip I was able to see such a clear illustration of everything I have been learning about in the tourism development and management program,” said TSA member Paige Corbin. “It was such an amazing opportunity to see how the concepts I learn about in my classes translate into real life. The lessons that I learned on the trip were so powerful and I look forward to being able to share my experiences with others about how to be a conscientious tourist.”  

Students also enjoyed Page's annual Balloon Regatta and even helped a balloon crew prepare for launch, enjoying a sense of community resulting from experiences beyond the walls of a classroom.

"I really enjoyed people-watching at Horseshoe Bend from a tourism perspective. It was fascinating — and alarming! — to see how tourists pushed boundaries to take an epic photo,” said TSA member Savannah Stratman. “It was also fun to interact with local vendors at the Balloon Regatta about how many people come into town just for this one event and how much economic impact can result from having the event in their town.”

“Antelope Canyon really hit me! All I could do was surrender to its beauty and touch every line with awe. The workmanship of nature is far beyond human reach,” said Jing ‘Viona’ Fang, a student in Hainan University-Arizona State University Joint International Tourism College in China. “This trip is also the first time I saw stars all over the sky. In my urban city, the sky above is divided by tall buildings. I was so grateful to see the stars shining all over sky — far away from urban areas.”

Veterans in Arizona more than twice as likely to die by suicide as nonveterans, ASU researchers find

November 18, 2019

Veterans in Arizona are at more than twice the risk of the rest of the population of dying by suicide, according to new information from Arizona State University’s Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety (CVPCS).

Researchers at the CVPCS, based at ASU’s Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, found that 53.2 veterans per 100,000 population in Arizona killed themselves between 2015 and 2017, compared with a rate of 21.1 per 100,000 for nonveterans, said Professor Charles Katz, the Watts Family Director of the center. Download Full Image

The center released its Arizona Violent Death Reporting System (AZ-VDRS) report, "Suicides Involving Veterans," this month. In compiling their results, researchers examined 3,601 suicides that occurred in Arizona between 2015 and 2017. More findings:

  • Female veterans’ suicides occurred at about three times the rate of nonveteran females (28.9 per 100,000 population for female veterans versus 10.7 per 100,000 population among women who were not veterans).
  • More than 1 in 3 veteran suicide victims reported a physical health problem, compared with less than 1 in 4 among nonveteran suicide victims.
  • Veterans were far more likely to have used a firearm than nonveterans in killing themselves (80% versus 53.4%).

Younger veterans ages 18-34 are four times more likely to die by suicide than nonveterans of the same age group, according to the study.

Among Arizona counties, Mohave County in northwest Arizona leads the state in the rate of veteran suicides, with 79.3 veteran suicides per 100,000 population. Graham County in southeast Arizona had the lowest rate, logging 14.7 veteran suicides per 100,000 population. The statewide number is 50.4.

“If we as a state and a nation are serious about preventing suicide among our veterans, increased support for mental health screening and treatment after diagnosis is needed urgently,” the report’s implications and recommendations sections said. “Critically, we owe veteran men and women the highest standard of care and a rapid, effective response when they have disclosed suicidal thoughts and intentions or have survived actual attempts. The goal should be nothing less than the restoration of their potential for quality of life.”

Katz agreed.

“Our findings should give pause to all of us who support our troops, especially as we honor veterans this month,” he said. “Many of these suicides are the result of the physical and mental problems they have experienced. If you are close to a veteran, talk to them, communicate with them. Most of all, sympathize or empathize with the experiences they share with you, and encourage them to contact their local veterans center, VA medical center or a suicide prevention coordinator.”

The research for this report, like others the center conducts for the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has usefulness beyond compiling statistics, said David Choate, the CVPCS’ associate director.

“It is not research for the sake of research. Indeed, the mission of the CDC, the NVDRS and the Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety is to see the AZ-VDRS data be put to use,” Choate said. “We work closely with law enforcement and public health partners, allowing both nongovernmental organizations and governmental policymakers much-needed information necessary for data-driven decision making in response to important issues surrounding homicides and suicides in Arizona.”

Mark J. Scarp

Media Relations Officer, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions


Mike and Cindy Watts receive WESTMARC Regional Advancement Award

November 15, 2019

Mike and Cindy Watts, for whom the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions is named, received the Regional Advancement Award from WESTMARC on Nov. 7 during its annual Best of the West Awards show and dinner.

The Wattses are co-founders of Sunstate Equipment, a highly successful equipment and rental company that began in Arizona in 1977 and has expanded to 10 other states. Both grew up in the west Phoenix neighborhood of Maryvale when it was a newly developed community. Concerned by the urban decline Maryvale began experiencing in the 1980s and 1990s, the couple made leadership gifts to the Maryvale YMCA and endowed the Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety, an initiative of the Watts College. award sculpture Mike and Cindy Watts were honored by WESTMARC Nov. 7 with this Regional Advancement Award for their contributions to ASU and to the West Valley. Download Full Image

In 2018, the couple made a $30 million donation to ASU’s then-College of Public Service and Community Solutions, prompting the renaming and spurring expansion of the college’s work in community development, public policy, criminal justice and child well-being, including the funding of five endowed professorships. The gift also is contributing to a revitalization effort in Maryvale, with ASU collaborating directly with local leaders to bolster their efforts and increase community engagement.

Watts College Dean Jonathan Koppell spoke about the couple’s dedication to their community and region in a video introduction shown at the awards dinner.

“I can’t think of a couple that is more devoted to the West Valley than Mike and Cindy,” said Koppell, who said he was delighted to be speaking on behalf of the college bearing the couple’s name.

“It’s important to understand, however, that the gift to ASU, while being focused on our students and on great research, was primarily because they cared passionately about advancing the communities of the West Valley and saw the investment in the Watts College as being a vehicle for making a difference in people’s lives.”

Founded in 1990, WESTMARC — which stands for Western Maricopa Coalition — consists of 15 West Valley communities, including Phoenix, in partnership with area businesses and educational institutions including ASU. Its mission, according to its website, is “to address important issues facing the West Valley’s economic prosperity.”

Follett donation to ASU Bridging Success helps students exiting foster care pay for books

November 15, 2019

Learning they’re eligible for a college tuition waiver would usually be enough to send any 18-year-old to the moon and back.

That’s how youth in foster care in Arizona likely feel after being told they’re potentially eligible for a tuition waiver at any of Arizona’s three state universities or any community college, courtesy of recent state legislation. After dealing with the difficulties many of these youth have faced, receiving a tuition waiver might be like winning a new car on a TV game show. Representatives from ASU Bookstores and Follett (man and woman) smile with student Allan Valles Sanchez while he holds up a criminology and criminal justice textbook Bridging Success student and criminology and criminal justice minor Allan Valles Sanchez (right) shops for textbooks with Val Ross, area director of Sun Devil Campus Stores, and Ashlie Singleton, Follett regional manager of sales and operations. Download Full Image

However, similar to winning a shiny new vehicle, a tuition waiver doesn’t cover incidental expenses that can be cost prohibitive. The reality is, although the tuition waiver removes one of the major barriers to getting a college degree, many students still must pay for books, supplies, academic fees and room and board on their own through additional scholarships, grants, work-study programs and other forms of financial aid.

Upon reaching adulthood, many of these young people are starting college with limited or no family, social and financial support available to help them through their academic journey at ASU. Because of this, these early steps into higher education can be extremely scary as they face yet another unfamiliar set of circumstances.

ASU Bridging Success, based at the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, is a program that aims to stand in the gap for students coming to the university from the foster care system, said program coordinator Justine Cheung.

“We are here with a holistic, trauma-informed program that understands the child welfare system, the implications of what being in care means, the strengths our students bring with them and challenges they may face as they pursue their degree,” Cheung said.

“Over the years of running this program, one of the biggest concerns I hear from our students is how they will pay for their books,” Cheung explained. “But this year their concerns were addressed through a generous donation made by Follett Corporation to ASU Bridging Success.”

In early fall, Val Ross, area director of Sun Devil Campus Stores, and Ashley Singleton, regional manager of Follett Higher Education Group, met with Cheung to learn about the work Bridging Success does and the students they serve. The result of the meeting was a $25,000 grant to help students in the Bridging Success program cover book expenses. 

Students with foster care backgrounds who participated in Bridging Success Early Start, a partnership program administered by ASU University College that provides a six-day college transition experience for incoming first-year and transfer students, also received an additional $50 bookstore gift card. These funds make a significant impact toward offsetting the cost of books and supplies.

Bridging Success student

Samantha Sahagun

Financial concerns meant nerve-wracking days leading up to Samantha Sahagun’s first day of fall classes. A Barack Obama Scholar, she knew that program would cover her meals. But books and other costs were another matter.

“One thing I was scared about was purchasing my books,” the freshman social work major from Phoenix said. “But when we received the grant to get our books for the first semester, I started crying.”

For freshman Carina Jaramillo, students in her group already had an idea they were going to receive “a little help” to buy books, but learning about the grant and the gift cards transformed the experience.

“Books were expensive, and it was great just to know it was going to be off my plate, that they would provide it,” said Jaramillo, a medical studies major from Douglas, Arizona. “Many of us didn’t know how we were able to buy books.”

“It’s been pretty good so far,” Jaramillo said. “The scholarship from the bookstore really helped. Financial aid really helped me. Everything just fell into place after that.”

The two said Bridging Success continues to help them meet the challenges of college. For one thing, it enabled them to recognize there are many others like themselves.

“There are a lot more people who come from my background,” Jaramillo said. “My roommate has a lot in common with me.”

For Sahagun, Bridging Success is another vital support system.

“It’s there for when I need someone to talk to,” she said. “Two weeks before school, they showed us around MyASU (a platform on the ASU website), how scholarships work. They’re like my cheerleaders; they want me to succeed. They are definitely a major part of my education at ASU because I know they’ll be there if I fall.”

Bridging Success student

Carina Jaramillo

Jaramillo agreed.

“Coming into Bridging Success, I didn’t know what it was. But it helped me prepare for college. There were a lot of workshops to help me learn what college was going to be like. They are like a second family, basically,” she said. “We have an emergency fund, for example — it doesn’t have to be school-related, like if your car broke down — and for emotional support, too. They would be the hand that you need in case of hard times.”

Sahagun said that after “everything was handed to you in high school,” Bridging Success helped her learn how to be independent and responsible with her academic obligations.

“Anything you do is on you now. It’s not, like, who’s taking care of you. I feel I have to be more responsible. Being responsible isn’t as scary for me now because I know who to ask.”

Jaramillo said her advice to those coming out of foster care and seeking to enter ASU is to not be afraid to come out of their comfort zones.

“Don’t be afraid to tell people where you come from,” she said. “At ASU, it’s a new beginning, a new fresh start.”      

Make a contribution to the Bridging Success Emergency Fund.

Written by Mark Scarp

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Herberger Institute receives $400K grant for creative placemaking

November 15, 2019

The Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts has been awarded $400,000 from ArtPlace America (ArtPlace) to support its work in building the field of creative placemaking toward furthering healthy, equitable and sustainable communities. ArtPlace is a collaboration of foundations, federal agencies and financial institutions that exists to position arts and culture as a core sector of community planning and development.

The six other recipients are the Maryland Institute College of Art, The New School, the University of Florida, the University of Michigan, the University of New Mexico and the University of Oregon.

“Each of these institutions is working to bring traditionally siloed bodies of knowledge and ways of teaching together,” said ArtPlace Executive Director Jamie Bennett. “We are thrilled to support these institutions in a way that works for their educational philosophies to further the work of artists as allies in creating healthy, equitable and sustainable communities." 

Creative placemaking already shows up in a variety of higher education settings — including in arts and design schools, in public policy schools and in architecture and urban planning programs — and the work is called by many different names, including social and civic practice art, art and public action, and arts and communities. Current and next-generation practitioners do and will hold a variety of degrees as they work toward equitable, sustainable and healthy community outcomes using arts and culture strategies.

“ASU's Herberger Institute strives to push programs, teaching and partnerships that center artists and designers as change agents for public good,” said Jen Cole, director of the Herberger Institute’s National Accelerator for Cultural Innovation. “This investment will deepen our existing work and collaborations to ensure that art and design are vital in healthy, equitable communities, and we are grateful to ArtPlace for their partnership and support.”

The funding was awarded to ASU to create concentrations and minors for multiple degree programs, as well as the case studies, learning modules and original research that will be required.The institute is further integrating creative placemaking into degree programs and other initiatives, enlisting partners across the university. The Studio for Creativity, Place and Equitable Communities (SCPEC), a collaboration between Herberger Institute and the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions led by Institute Professor Maria Rosario Jackson, will create teaching resources, field-facing scholarship and pedagogical support tools to advance equitable and ethical creative placemaking practice.

Following a scan that revealed over 70 institutions of higher education that were offering creative placemaking programs — including those in public action, social practice, public art, community art, social change and similar programs — an invitation to propose work that integrates creative placemaking into higher education was extended to 24 institutions last spring.

Investments for this grant program were chosen following a rigorous review process, including a four-person team of non-ArtPlace advisers. In addition to a dedicated commitment to a vision of equitable, sustainable and healthy communities, ArtPlace considered the leadership at each institution and their commitment to further embedding this work deeply within the organization. ArtPlace also committed to finding institutions that embrace education for all learners, at all stages of work and learning, and that would partner to strengthen the creative placemaking field, ethical engagement with communities struggling with the inherent inequities of education, arts and community planning and development and an equitable approach to research and evaluation.

Top photo: ASU students designed Pause + Play in collaboration with the community. Photo by Nicole Neri/ASU Now

Deborah Sussman

Communications and media specialist , Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts


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ASU experts help drive Arizona Town Hall project on helping families thrive

ASU experts contribute to town hall on 'Strong Families, Thriving Children'
November 12, 2019

Annual nonpartisan convention tackles issue of child welfare in Arizona

Arizona has seen some improvements in child welfare, but the gains are not equal for all groups — and that's an issue that the state must face, according to Judy Krysik, director of the Center for Child Well-Being at Arizona State University.

Krysik, an associate professor in the School of Social Work at ASU, was one of the main authors of the recent “Strong Families, Thriving Children” report, sponsored by Arizona Town Hall and produced by the Morrison Institute for Public Policy at ASU.

The report is the background document for the upcoming Arizona Town Hall event, a three-day gathering devoted to the topic of “Strong Families, Thriving Children.” Arizona Town Hall is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization founded in 1962 that educates and connects people around the state to solve problems. Every year, the organization chooses a topic and travels around Arizona, holding community meetings to collect feedback on the issue. The year culminates in a big town hall gathering, to be held Thursday through Saturday this week.

The report covers several aspects of family health in Arizona, and Krysik wrote the chapter on child welfare. One of the main takeaways is inequity.

“The good news is that there are a lot of improvements. The bad news is it’s not across the board,” she said.

“It didn’t matter which indicator we looked at — there are disproportionate outcomes with race and ethnicity. Poverty is one, health insurance, low birth weight, infant mortality.”

For example, the percentage of children living in poverty in Arizona decreased from 26% in 2013 to 21% in 2017. But 45% of American Indian children in Arizona lived in poverty in 2017, up from 41% the year before.

“On the one hand we can celebrate and on the other hand we can say, ‘We’re not done.' We’ve made positive gains but those gains aren’t realized equally across the board.”

Arizona Town Hall topics over the past few years included criminal justice, K-12 education, water and relations with Mexico. Those also included input by ASU experts. The Morrison Institute for Public Policy at ASU produced the town hall background research report. It was edited by Erica Quintana, policy analyst for the Morrison Institute, who authored the multiyear, five-part research project on childhood neglect released last year.

“Arizona Town Hall reached out to me because the topic was child welfare, and they asked if I could identify experts in the field to author different pieces of the report,” Quintana said.

“I was able to highlight the fact that from the neglect analysis, we saw that domestic violence and substance abuse were things that Arizona families are struggling with, and children are being removed from families based on those experiences. So we were able to advise the research committee that chapters on those two specific areas should be included.”

As part of its annual process, Arizona Town Hall traveled to more than 20 locations around the state, including college campuses and prisons, from Yuma to Pinetop. Every community meeting came up with a list of recommendations to improve family health, such as “make schools a hub for family services,” and “provide transportation for families to visit prisons.” One part of each town hall event was, “What I would tell Arizona’s elected leaders.” Answers to that included: “Walk the city and the streets and take the bus,” and, “Be more transparent with where our taxpayer money goes and show us tangible results.”

Every single town hall urged state leaders to give more funding to education.

Another important point that Krysik pointed out in her chapter is the changing birth rate in Arizona, which had the steepest decline in the nation, falling from 16.4 births per 1,000 population in 2006 to 13 per 1,000 in 2014. There were 102,687 births in 2007 compared with about 81,000 in 2017.

“That was one thing that surprised me and I don’t know how many people realize it,” she said.

“I don’t think we’ve fully explored what that means and where those decreases occurred. So if it’s among higher-income families, will it mean we have the same number of families with a lot of needs, or is it across the board?”

Besides Krysik, ASU experts David Schlinkert and Eric Legg contributed chapters.

Schlinkert, policy analyst for the Morrison Institute, described how Arizona has resettled more than 17,000 refugees since 2014 and how those families face additional hurdles to getting support, such as language and cultural barriers and lack of medical documentation.

Legg, an assistant professor in the School of Community Resources and Development at ASU, wrote about enrichment activities that help families thrive, such as youth sports, library story times and teen recreation programs such as robotics. Cost can be a barrier for some families, and Legg pointed out programs that can help, such as Act One, which provides fine arts experiences, and the Phoenix Public Library’s kindergarten boot camp.

Other chapters were written by experts from the University of Arizona, Northern Arizona University, the Arizona Department of Child Safety and nonprofit organizations. They cover topics such as protective factors for families, American Indian families and adverse childhood experiences, which are traumatic events such as the incarceration of a parent that lead to lifelong consequences.

The report also highlights “bright spots,” such as the decrease in teen pregnancy rates and the ASU Refugee Empowerment Project.

“A lot of times when you talk about social issues, it’s all doom and gloom,” Quintana said. “And we’re all very aware in this field that it’s important, when you can, to highlight those bright spots — collaboration and other things that are occurring. I think the general public hears more of the doom and gloom, but there is progress being made.”

She pointed to the work of the Morrison Institute, which next week will unveil a new mapping tool that highlights risks and services in rural communities in Arizona. The project will be discussed at the institute’s State of Our State event on Nov. 25.

“The goal is to identify those communities that struggle with social issues and then show the services they have available and try to identify communities that might need more,” she said.

The 112th Statewide Arizona Town Hall will be held Thursday through Saturday at the Sheraton Crescent Hotel in Phoenix and is open to the public as observers.

Top image by Pixabay

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now


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ASU scholars offer a spectrum of resources to local and state tribes

November 7, 2019

‘Doing Research in Indian Country’ conference showcases university's research in Indian Country

Some of the most innovative and groundbreaking research at Arizona State University is taking place in indigenous communities and on reservations around the Copper State and beyond.

“Tribal nations and communities are becoming more and more interested and embedded in the research process in its entirety, from the research design and implementation to large questions of data use and ownership. More importantly, they are engaged in the institutional review process,” said Bryan McKinley Jones Brayboy, President’s Professor, director of the Center for Indian Education and ASU’s special adviser to the president on American Indian Affairs. 

The university has a wide breadth of research and interaction taking place in Indian Country, which was showcased at the “Doing Research in Indigenous Communities” conference held Nov. 4-5 at ASU SkySong.

“Part of our work during this conference is to hear from these tribes and communities and to connect them with universities and researchers with the hopes that some synergies will emerge and so that researchers and institutions better understand the needs and wishes of tribes in the larger arena of research," Brayboy said.

Now in its third year, the conference featured more than 130 ASU scholars, researchers, staff and students making an impact in indigenous communities in the fields of history, health care, language preservation, molecular science, sustainability research methodologies and higher education experiences.

Keynote speaker Malia Villegas, who helped Brayboy with the conception and birthing of the conference several years ago, said it was like watching a child grow quickly.

“I think it’s phenomenal to see how this conference has taken off. ASU has proven they are leaders when it comes to Native American research and is a place that others look to for inspiration,” said Villegas, an enrolled member of the Native Village of Afognak in Alaska who serves as the vice president of community investments at Afognak Native Corporation, overseeing shareholder services. “Looking at this from a tribal industry lens, I’m excited to see business and industry people here, tribal members, students and faculty, all showcasing the great success across Indian Country and inviting people to take a look into the research space.”

There was no shortage of research to offer up, including a first-of-its kind look on technology use on Indian lands. The paper, “Tribal Technology Assessment: The State of Internet Service on Tribal Lands,” was released last month through the American Indian Policy InstituteThe American Indian Policy Institute is now a unit within the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions. . It showed that many Native Americans do not have equal access to the internet and that most are using smartphones to go online, albeit at much slower speeds.

“This study gives us a clearer picture of what tribal connectivity looks like,” said Brian Howard, a research and policy analyst with the American Indian Policy Institute. “We also looked at things like affordability issues that would prevent tribal residents from accessing internet service.”

The study not only identified the issue but came up with several recommendations. They included a dedicated tribal office in the Federal Communications Commission with a permanent budget allocation, a Tribal Broadband Fund, prioritize funding for tribal lands and encouraging the FCC to engage with tribes and sovereign nations on the issue.

For Lance Sanchez, a 24-year-old member of the Tohono O’odham Nation and a senior at ASU, his focus is more on saving teen lives and getting them more socially and politically engaged.

Sanchez, who is double majoring in American Indian studies, and community advocacy and social policy, said Native Americans have the highest teen suicide rates in the country.

“I am looking for ways to empower youth through leadership building as well as creating different programs that focus on them bettering themselves within the community,” said Sanchez, who is also a member of the National Congress of American Indians Youth Commission and United National Indian Tribal Youth. “The work has paid off because Native Americans are now taking the charge in continuing with higher education. We need more Native teachers, lawyers, nurses, doctors and researchers. This conference helps create those partnerships in tribal communities.”

Denise Bates, assistant professor of leadership and interdisciplinary studies in the College of Integrative Science and Arts, is nation-building through her work by helping other tribes in the Southeast document their histories through community-driven initiatives.

“Many southern tribal communities have not been well documented, particularly during the 20th century,” Bates said. “Colonialism and racial segregation had a huge impact on southern indigenous peoples, and it has only been recently that many tribes from this region have been actively looking for opportunities to engage the public with their histories — and on their own terms.”

Bates has been working with the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana for the past decade through a variety of mediums, including accessing and digitizing archival material and recording oral histories. Bates has also a written book, “Basket Diplomacy,” (University of Nebraska Press, 2020), documenting how the Coushatta community worked together through multiple generations and leveraged opportunities so that existing and newly acquired knowledge, timing and skill worked in harmony to ensure their survival. The Coushatta is now one of the top private employers in Louisiana through their economic endeavors.

“ASU is an institution that has a lot of resources and helping other tribal nations should not be a regionally focused mission,” Bates said. “It impacts all of us because a lot of best practices often come up as a result of intertribal coalitions and support.”

In addition to nation-building, there was plenty of trust-building, said Bates. Last year ASU brought a Coushatta tribal elder and former chairman, Ernest Sickey, to the Valley to speak to faculty and staff. In return, Bates said, the Coushatta Tribe is encouraging their students to attend ASU.

“They know that ASU is a supportive place, one that not only supports its students but offers the potential to help tribal nations envision a future for their communities,” Bates said.

Top photo: Devin Hardin, with the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community Education Division, and others listen to speakers at the "Doing Research in Indigenous Communities" conference, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019, at ASU SkySong. More than 130 people from around the state took part in the third annual conference featuring scholars, researchers, staff and students and their impact in indigenous communities in the fields of history, health care, language preservation, molecular science, sustainability research methodologies and higher education experiences. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Reporter , ASU Now


Planning events at ASU? Watts College has you covered

November 6, 2019

Does your boss ask you to plan your department team builder? Is it all hands on deck when your team hosts a conference or workshop? Do you secretly have no idea what you are doing?

ASU offers a Special Event Management certificate through the School of Community Resources and Development, in the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions. In this six-class certificate program, you will learn the tools to become a confident and successful event professional. people on tour of Sun Devil Stadium JD Loudabarer and his team talk about game day preparations. Download Full Image

Topics include:

• Food and beverage.
• Crowd management.
• Protocol.
• Budgeting.
• Marketing.

ASU employees can use qualified tuition reduction. Most courses are offered on the Downtown Phoenix campus one night a week with an online class available over the summer. The program also includes site visits to local venues and businesses, guest speakers and the opportunity to plan and execute your own event.

Classes are aligned with the academic calendar and begin in January. Visit the program's website for more information or email to speak with an adviser.

Redesigning the mindset for girls in STEM

November 5, 2019

A story of changing lives starts as all good stories do — with good food and good conversation.

Over a taco truck lunch with the 2018 Mandela Washington fellows visiting from Africa, Arizona State University Lecturer Christina Carrasquilla met her ideal outreach partner, Janet Silantoi. Silantoi is a cybersecurity expert from Kenya, who was at ASU connecting with other professionals as part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. Christina Carrasquilla and students from the AIC Moi Girls Secondary School in Samburu County, Kenya Christina Carrasquilla (center of photo), a graphic information technology lecturer with the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University, brought her design thinking curriculum from Arizona to Africa to inspire high school girls to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and math. She worked with Mandela Washington fellow Janet Silantoi from Kenya to develop an app boot camp for girls at the AIC Moi Girls Secondary School in Samburu County, Kenya. Photo courtesy of Christina Carrasquilla Download Full Image

“When you meet that person you want to collaborate with, you want that great conversation to keep going,” said Carrasquilla, who teaches graphic information technology at The Polytechnic School, one of the six schools in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at ASU.

The two tech enthusiasts bonded over their passion of helping to spark girls' interest in science, technology, engineering and math. And just like that, a conversation over tacos ignited an impactful outreach initiative that would span more than 9,000 miles.

Fostering intercontinental fellowship

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is the flagship program of the U.S. government’s Young African Leaders Initiative, or YALI.  Since 2014, nearly 4,400 young leaders from every country in sub-Saharan Africa have participated in the fellowship. The fellows, between the ages of 25 and 35, are accomplished innovators and leaders in their communities and countries.

Each Mandela Washington fellow takes part in a six-week leadership institute at a U.S. college or university in one of three tracks: business, civic engagement or public management. The institutes support the development of fellows’ leadership skills through academic study, workshops, site visits, community service activities, cultural activities, mentoring and networking with U.S. leaders and collaboration with Americans.

From 2014 to 2017, the ASU Watts College for Public Service and Community Solutions hosted 25 fellows each summer for a civic leadership institute, and from 2016 to the present, Watts College has hosted 25 fellows each summer for a leadership in public management institute. In total, Watts College has hosted 200 fellows in Mandela Washington Fellowship Leadership Institutes. That taco truck where Silantoi and Carrasquilla met was one of the structured social activities during the 2018 public management institute at ASU.

To further strategic partnerships and professional connections developed during the U.S. leadership institutes, the Mandela Washington Fellowship also includes a reciprocal exchange program, where Americans have the opportunity to travel to Africa to continue collaborating on projects with the African fellows they met in the U.S.

Working together across a 10-hour time difference, Carrasquilla and Silantoi applied to the exchange program so Carrasquilla could travel to Africa. As part of the program, she lent her expertise in digital design and STEM outreach to high school girls at AIC Moi Girls Secondary School in Samburu County, Kenya.

Tech design and community engagement are skills in high demand for the fellowship, said Tara Bartlett, a doctoral candidate and graduate research assistant in ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College who has been working with the Mandela Washington Fellowship at ASU since 2014.

“Each year, many fellows are interested in tech design and how to engage communities, especially rural communities, through technology,” Bartlett said. “Additionally, many fellows are looking to combine those skills with social issues, like women’s disenfranchisement and empowerment. So we look for facilitators who can present on several topics concentrically. (Carrasquilla) has an extensive resume of experience and outreach with a proven track record of mentorship.”

Bartlett said Carrasquilla’s connections with the greater community outside of ASU are also appealing to the fellows in networking, as well as her involvement with many outreach programs, such as the App Camp for Girls.

Encouraging engagement in education

As a first-generation college student who grew up in a time where technology classes were seen as “for the boys,” Carrasquilla is no stranger to the importance of having female mentors and role models in STEM. She wants girls in high school and younger to see careers in STEM as attainable and something they can achieve if they’re interested.

“We see similar issues with women in technology (in the U.S.), but the stakes are a lot higher in Kenya where it’s not expected for girls to get an education,” Carrasquilla said. “It’s not championed, but it should be an option if they feel like it’s right for them.”

Primary school only recently became free in Kenya, and secondary school still requires tuition. Families there often encourage girls to get married or take on household work rather than pay for them to attend secondary school.

But the AIC Moi Girls Secondary School is a special case for high schools in Kenya. The girls-only, private boarding school receives government funding to focus on STEM education.

Silantoi leads after-school computer clubs at AIC Moi Girls Secondary School and at other schools in the area where she has been meeting and talking with the girls about computer networking and cybersecurity. She brought in Carrasquilla to show them a different aspect of technology.

Apps with impact

Silantoi uses a similar boot camp formula that Carrasquilla applies in her Arizona-based outreach activities to generate interest in computer technology fields.

Carrasquilla brought the ASU design thinking course techniques she teaches in The Polytechnic School and translated them for a high school app-building boot camp.

“Apps are a really accessible way to understand what technology does and can do,” Carrasquilla said. “We do paper prototyping to gain concepts of digital workflow, and we look at the logic behind the apps we were making.”

Part of this prototyping involves thinking about what happens when the user interacts with particular features.

Though we often think of apps as being games, entertainment or sources of information, they can also help solve problems the app developers see in their communities. The girls in Kenya didn’t shy away from bringing up big issues they could help address with their apps: corruption, female genital mutilation, early marriages, public health and girls’ education.

Silantoi worked with the high school students to successfully develop a female genital mutilation alert app that alerts authorities of imminent incidences of the illegal practice. The fully functioning app has inspired the girls to see what they can accomplish with technology.

“It’s empowering for them to know they can make a difference,” Carrasquilla said.

Many of the students focused on different forms of corruption, which is something that affects the girls’ daily lives — for example, bank corruption can mean a girl can’t return to secondary school because her family lost the tuition money.

Others created apps on different topics. One group designed an app to teach children how to avoid getting bitten by infection-spreading insects called jiggers. Additional groups created apps to help girls overcome obstacles to staying in school and to combat drug abuse.

Carrasquilla said she and the girls saw how “working together to solve problems can make the world better at a small scale.”

“As graphic designers, we don’t often think we make an impact on the world,” Carrasquilla said. “But we design the experience of technology and we do have the ability to make a global impact.”

Showing women can have careers, families and an entrepreneurial spirit

Through the Mandela Washington Fellowship Reciprocal Exchange Program, Carrasquilla introduced the girls to life, career and STEM experiences of her fellow faculty members at ASU and the Fulton Schools.

When presented with the opportunity to help with Carrasquilla’s activities in Kenya, Andrea Richa, a professor of computer science and engineering who specializes in network algorithm research was “very excited to be able to contribute to such a high-impact high school outreach program.”

Richa already has an outreach activity for high schoolers called the Superpowers of Swarms, in which she leads activities to show how computer scientists take inspiration from nature — such as ants, bees and fish — to help robot swarms perform tasks.

Carrasquilla said the girls were “blown away” at how accessible Richa made these advanced technical concepts seem by how she related them to concepts the girls were familiar with.

Carrasquilla also reached out to Arizona women of color to show the girls an example of what their futures could look like.

Amy Robinson, a graphic designer with the Arizona Cardinals football team by day and a “part-time solopreneur” by night, was one of the women whose stories were shared with the girls.

Carrasquilla told of Robinson’s journey to landing a full-time gig in the seemingly male-dominated sports industry and how she balances her career and passions with her life as a wife and mother.

“As a woman of color, they didn’t have to see me in a stereotypical role,” Robinson said. “I own my own company, I work within a well-known organization that embraces diversity. They can be so much more than what society tells them they have to or can be. That’s beyond inspiring.”

Robinson said hearing that the students didn’t think it was possible to work and be a mom was particularly emotional, and she was glad she could share her story to inspire and be inspired herself.

“When (Robinson) talked about her husband and kids, all the girls gasped and started whispering to each other,” Carrasquilla said. “It was impactful for them.”

Robinson considers it her duty to give back to her community, and in this case, to potentially aspiring graphic designers in Africa.

“I think it was awesome that Christina was able to go and share not only knowledge about design and design thinking, but also that she was able to inspire the girls with stories of various women in different areas of their lives making big strides in their careers,” Robinson said. “Hearing that these girls are excited to problem-solve and find out what’s out there and how they fit in, or even stand out to make a difference, is a great feeling. The future is female.”

Making a difference, one classroom at a time

Carrasquilla plans to again apply with Silantoi for the Mandela Washington Fellowship Reciprocal Exchange Program, as well as with other fellows from the program.

She hopes to work with Mandela Washington Fellow Jennifer Batamuliza from Rwanda next summer to teach a boot camp in Batamuliza’s newly founded nonprofit organization that supports girls in tech.

But her partnership with Silantoi isn’t over yet. Before she even left Kenya, Carrasquilla and Silantoi had planned curriculum for three different boot camps to build on what they had already accomplished this summer.

Despite being a continent apart, their shared goals and passions continue to drive good conversations about how to improve and encourage girls’ access to STEM education all over the world.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. government and administered by IREX. Arizona State University is a sub-grantee of IREX and has implemented a U.S.-based leadership institute as a part of the fellowship since 2014. For more information about the Mandela Washington Fellowship, please visit For information on how you can engage with the Mandela Washington Fellowship at Arizona State University, please contact

Monique Clement

Communications specialist, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering